menwhowouldbeking menwhowouldbeking

The Men Who Would Be King

The Men Who Would Be King

I can’t wait to get my hands on this book: The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks. All the reviews I’ve read so far indicate a well researched book, and there appears to be plenty of animation-related company history as well. Here is a link to a Businessweek review of the book, and here is an interview with the author Nicole Laporte. In the interview, when asked whether DreamWorks will ever top Pixar, Laporte gives the following answer:

The Pixar culture is the anti-Hollywood studio. It’s based in Northern California. They nurture these ideas over years. At Dreamworks, it’s much more about the way a live action movie gets made. You hire Judd Apatow to come in one day and write some jokes and punch it up. At this point, Pixar is head and shoulders above everyone. I don’t see them passing on the crown any time soon. But I think Katzenberg has seen the folly of his ways. I think he realized you have to let the artist be the artist.

Buy the book on for $18.50.

  • Wow, what a quote from the author! I’m surprised she can be so candid and honest! Still, I’d welcome a beat-all movie out of Dreamworks or any other studio. Let the artist be the artist!

  • nw

    Katzenburg’s smile scares me……sounds like an interesting read.

  • Karen

    I read the book last month when it came out. I was surprised how LITTLE new information was in it. Virtually everything in it was covered quite well and in painful, public detail when Katzemburg left Disney.
    There are a few insider tidbits, but no real surprises. It’s a notch better than most trashy Hollywood insider books, but not much,

  • I came here hoping to read a story like this one:

    Instead, I find a story that shows Deamworks in a negative light. Not surprising at all.

  • amid

    Floyd Bishop: Hollywood box office is at a thirteen-year low, and Shrek’s #1 ranking means little in light of its poor performance. Take BoxOfficeMojo’s analysis: “Though Shrek Forever After has held court atop the weekend box office longer than any previous Shrek, its business still trailed its predecessors by a wide margin, which is what counts because ranking first is more dependent on what else is playing at the moment than a movie’s staying power.”

    It’s fine if you don’t like this post, but making petty and misinformed observations don’t help your argument.

  • Negative? Hardly. I was around those early days. My daughter even worked there. These guys were out to conquer the world, and they failed, plain and simple. But, what the hell, they’re still rich.

    I still love Dreamworks. I like their movies, not to mention their free lunch.

  • Scarabim

    Not a Walt in the bunch.

    And it shows.

  • It’s hard to call DWA a “folly”. They have had detectable success. If it were teetering on bankruptcy and laying off hundreds of artists, you might be able to make “folly” stick.

    But when their movie pulls in $25 million on their third weekend that’s a sign that a substantial number of people want to see it and that something is going right no matter what the competition. Those are numbers most films never do in their FIRST week.

  • I just thought that the blog that supposedly leads the animation conversation would be interested in reporting the fact that Shrek 4 (an animated film) has dominated the box office since its release. This is not a minor thing, regardless of overall box office take. Being first place is still first place. Large films such as “Sex & The City 2”, “Prince of Persia”, and several others were not able to knock it down, and I’m sure would love to switch places with this film.

    People by the millions are choosing to watch an animated film over other choices, and that seems lost on this site. Misinformed indeed.

    At any rate, I’m looking forward to your coverage of “Toy Story 3”.

  • Jimmy Palmiotti

    does anyone know if it talks about the dreamworks purchase of my comic book ASH? we had a deal for animation and they still have the rights to the character for animation…but after a few screenplays that, as usual, change everything they bought…its still up in the air.


  • jt

    ASH..oh my god, I remember those days. Our third film was suppose to for “steven” I remember J.K. saying, an animation adventure in the likes of Raiders. It would’ve been ASH. We got Spirit instead. Lord.

    I’d be curious.

    There is a strange, “you never know what might have happened” if this film got made and released in May 2002 or earlier. A film about fireman and with the huge loss of life of firefighters post sept 11, I wonder what might have been.

    So Jim they still have the rights? They have re-optioned it over all these years? I hope so. At least you’d be getting some cashola.

  • Read the introduction of the book at Borders…and man, had no idea that Geffen and Katzenberg were threatin’ thugs. If they’re really not, the book really puts them in that light, and makes it discouraging to see them positively.

  • “I think he realized you have to let the artist be the artist.”

    WHY did it have to take him decades to realize that?

  • beamish13

    Wasn’t “Ash” going to be directed by Katsuhiro Otomo? I remember reading about that on Corona Coming Attractions years ago…

  • erlab

    A popular children’s book illustrator and author that has BEEN WORKING INDEPENDENT SINCE HE GRADUATED FROM the same college I attended had one of his stories bought by DreamWorks for a film.

    That was in 2007. No word since. He is now part of the college’s faculty.

    Why do I get the feeling DreamWorks acquires every title they are interested in and only makes 3% of those into actual film!?

  • SAV

    Amid: err Shrek 4 opened bigger than any pixar film…ever… and the drop off has been relatively low. I know your desperate to skew it in a negative light but the only way to do that is to compare it to previous shreks, since the top 4 animated openings of all time are Shrek2, Shrek 3, the simpsons movie followed by shrek 4… but by all means continue to try and convince yourself its not a hit.

  • Sylvain

    A book trashing dreamworks… and you can’t wait to get your hands on it. No kidding Amid. It’s just in time for the release of TS3 !! Wow !!

    Must be very informative !

  • Karen

    The book doesn’t “trash” dreamworks. It’s a thorough look at the interesting history and perils of starting a studio. But again, after reading the book I was surprised at how little NEW information there was–although it’s good to have it all in one place. Virtually everything that’s happened with DW has been very publicly covered in the media (especially the Hollywood media). Pretty much a yawn of a book (seriously).

  • Isaac

    Hollywood is doing fine, Amid: . Decade by decade, Hollywood’s growth has outpaced inflation, and that’s not taking into account “Hollywood accounting”. Shrek 4 is doing fine, having already recouped its production costs. Dreamworks is doing much more than fine, with two blockbusters in this year’s top 10.

    This is the only site I go to where the comments section complains about the negativity of the editorial section, and not the other way around.

  • Matt Sullivan

    makes me wonder why “Dragon” was so damn good. From what I know they spent 3 years making a horrible movie, it really sucked.

    Then ( as far as i can tell ) they threw their arms up and said “Mr. Sanders, do whatever you want to save this turd we spent MILLIONS OF DOLLARS watering down.”

    And so they gave him creative control because…it was already too late wasn’t it? Even their best committee thinking hadn’t worked.

  • Is it that CartoonBrew needs to like Dreamworks? I do not think that Shrek deserves critical praise and there is not huge surprise on how it is doing in the Box Office. I do not think you can make a very good argument on how Shrek 4 was a groundbreaking/superb film. You can make a compelling argument on how Pixar, box office wise and critically, has made better films then Dreamworks animation (if you judge the studios as a whole).

    This books seems to be a accurate portrayal of Dreamworks, it does acknowledge some of the great things Dreamworks has done. The people who Started Dreamworks seemed to want more then what they got and that is sort of what the book concentrates on.

    Both Dreamworks and Pixar have made some great animated films. I hope Nicole is right and Katzenberg is letting the artists at Dreamworks be the artists. It sure worked for “How to Train Your Dragon”.

  • Mark

    Dean Dublois solved most of Dragon’s problems, with Mr. Sanders’ help. Everyone who worked on it knows that.

  • I think for better or worse, Dreamworks has proven to be a legitimate competitor-even to Pixar. All Pixar has really done is tell great stories and kept the quality at a premium. There’s no reason any other studio can’t compete with that. For us who actually work in the business, we should offer some praise to the studio for mixing things up and providing another outlet in LA. I think the problem they had out the gate was trying to differentiate from Disney Features. At first, they didn’t seem to have a clear direction-other than slightly different design sensibilities. Now that they have established characters and franchises, they have come into their own. I just hope Katzenberg realizes that by empowering his talent to carry out an artistic vision he has been successful. He seems to want to take ownership of every success. What he needs to understand is that he needs them more than they need him.

  • Terry

    The book has some pretty lame people quoted in it. I don’t think many of the real movers and shakers contributed so it is mainly a rehash.

  • Jimmy Palmiotti

    yes, otomo was suppose to direct…my meeting with jeffery were that he saw ASH as a three picture deal…they bought the film rights outright from joe quesada and i and never did anything. Honest, I have no clue where the rights are…but yes…the movie would have been done , if it went as planned, before sept 11th, 2001.

    we had finished doing the comic then, so we saw no biggie selling the rights …and to be honest…we got a ton for them…but the producer took most of it. Joe and i split the rest.

    I still think its a great idea…and wish i could buy the rights back…who knows. Maybe someone will wake up, hire me to write the screenplay and it will finally get made.

    Yeah, I’ll go buy some lottery tickets…better odds.

  • H.o.S.

    Mark:”Dean Dublois solved most of Dragon’s problems, with Mr. Sanders’ help. Everyone who worked on it knows that.”

    Who are you?
    Chris took over dragon, brought over his head of story Alessandro Carloni, his editor Daren Holmes and then eventually dean.
    All the amazing brilliant ideas that changed and made the movie great where chris’ while the structural consistency was more thanks to dean.
    And anyone that had ever worked with chris and dean know that that is how they work.

    As for Dreamworks (animation, since that is what you ar mostly talking about) They are doing great! they released two movie so far this year and they are both in the top ten most viewed movies of the year. Dragon’s critical success was better then any pixar movie. Is the only animated company to have a movie in the top 5 movies of all time (including live action). So in audience and critics response… Dreamworks is doing great, at times clearly better then pixar. So, “is dreamworks ever going to top pixar”? In what sense? In what way? In many ways it already has! In hawayan shirts pixar will probably always top Dreamworks though.